Border Boss
Manuel B. Bravo and Zapata County
Texas History
6.125 x 9.25, 312 pp.
25 b&w photos., 11 tables.
Pub Date: 04/01/1999
Canseco-Keck History Series
Price:        $34.95 s

Price:        $17.95

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2001 Certificate of Commendation, presented by the American Association for State and Local History
Friends of the Dallas Public Library Award for the Book Making the Most Significant Contribution to Knowledge, presented by the Texas Institute of Letters
2000 Heritage Award, presented by the Webb County Heritage Foundation
2000 Luciano Guajardo Historical Awareness Award, presented by the Webb County Heritage Foundation

Border Boss

Manuel B. Bravo and Zapata County

By J. Gilberto Quezada

On January 1, 1937, Manuel B. Bravo was sworn in as county judge of Zapata County, a post he would hold for twenty years. In Border Boss: Manuel B. Bravo and Zapata County, J. Gilberto Quezada delineates Bravo’s political career in the Democratic Party and examines his role in some of the important issues of his day, especially Falcon Dam. During Bravo’s years in office, he worked and corresponded with many Texas and national politicians, including James Allred, Lloyd Bentsen, Kika de la Garza, Ralph Yarborough, and, most prominently, Lyndon Johnson. The association between Bravo and Johnson began with the special Senate election of 1941 and is reflected in the more than fifty letters between the two in Bravo's personal papers. In Johnson's 1948 Senate runoff against Coke Stevenson, voting irregularities were alleged in Zapata County when the election returns from Precinct No. 3 were reported missing. Quezada analyzes the Bravo papers for any evidence that Bravo and Johnson had arranged the disappearance and offers possible alternative explanations. From the 1930s to the 1950s Zapata County was one of six South Texas counties where the Tejano majority dominated local politics and held most public offices. Bravo became known as one of the "Mexican bosses" of South Texas, but Quezada draws a more nuanced picture of bossism than has been presented previously, analyzing the role of influential leading families but looking as well at the degree of economic integration into the state and nation as factors in how bossism developed.

Those interested in Mexican-American studies and politics and bossism in South Texas will appreciate the window onto South Texas politics and Tejano culture this biography gives.

J. GILBERTO QUEZADA, Associate Superintendent for Special Programs, Finance, and Pupil Services for the South San Antonio Independent School District, is an active member of the Texas State Historical Association and several other historical societies. He received his master's degree in history from St. Mary's University.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Quezada’s biography of Bravo brings context and identifiable people into relief, disposing of the un-nuanced stereotypes of Hispanic leaders of the age without undermining the drama that makes the history of Texas politics so compelling.”--Josh Busby, Georgetown University

“Quezada’s biography of Bravo brings context and identifiable people into relief, disposing of the un-nuanced stereotypes of Hispanic leaders of the age without undermining the drama that makes the history of Texas politics so compelling.” --Josh Busby, Georgetown University

“Presenters noted that the county is fortunate to have the publication of Border Boss, as it represents the very best for the border community.” --Zapata County News

“Is well researched and written, an important contribution to the history of 20th century Texas.” --Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

“The life of Judge Bravo glows in terms of generous public service . . . a measure of integrity that may well serve aspiring political servants of all ages and cultural backgrounds.” --Gilbert R. Cruz, Glendale Community College and Arizona State University West

“This book is needed in order to revise our understanding of political bossism, especially when it involves Mexican American leaders. . . . There are no other comparable books on Mexican American political bosses.” --Arnoldo De León, professor of history, Angelo State University

“Quezada’s scholarship is excellent . . . a tremendous job of primary research into the life of an important Tejano . . .” --Richard Griswold del Castillo, San Diego State University

“ . . . Quezada has done an excellent commendable work in studying Bravo and the patrón system. His book is well-researched and provides insightful, scholarly analysis. But is also a thoroughly engaging and interesting account of political life in South Texas. Bravo!” --San Antonio Express-News

“. . . This book will reward those interested in the political personalities of the region—particularly Lyndon Johnson but also Lloyd Bentsen Jr. and the Kazens of Laredo—and will be especially helpful to readers seeking insights into the ways minority groups managed to acquire and wield political influence long before the civil rights revolution of the late 20th century.” --San Antonio Express News

“Quezada’s solid and well-researched local study offers a wealth of intimate detail on the daily political life of an important figure from Texas.” --Choice

“LULAC highly recommends adding Border Boss to your personal library.” --LULAC News


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